After a harrowing experience in which two of the three-man team went overboard into the icy seas, the crew recovered their strength in Prince Christian Sound before continuing their epic journey by RIB across the Arctic to explore the Northwest Passage.
Finally, the next day had dawned. We were simply happy to be alive. We kept hugging and couldn't hold back our tears.
The near disaster had made us aware of how easy it is to lose everything in an instant. How thin is the thread that keeps us alive. Once again, the sea taught us in the most intense way how incredibly small we really are.
The waters in the Prince Christian Sound had calmed down and so we were able to make breakfast and hot drinks that we needed so much.
DAY 22nd / Sunday 24 of July 2022
Position: 60°09΄N 44°17΄W – Aappilattoq
Reinvigorated now, we were riding across the Prince Christian Channel at low speed. With eyes wide open we carefully surveyed our course, constantly passing between larger icebergs and small pieces of ice that were chipped off by the glaciers’ facades breaking off into the sound.
We were mostly silent, each of us going over in his mind our nightmarish adventure as we eased along.
Eventually we worked our way out of the rapids and the waters of the channel became calm while the steep and rugged vertical rocks that surround it presented us with enchantingly wild images. Every few hundred meters we encountered amazing waterfalls falling from a great height. We slowed to admire them and of course take the necessary photos.
The three glaciers that dominate between the high and sharp rocks of the northern side are particularly impressive and combined with the surrounding imposing environment turn Prince Christian Sound into one of the most spectacular fjords in the world.
At one point we turned left and then immediately right, following the course of the canal. In front of us lay a majestic calm lake, nestled between the high and snow-capped mountains, with large icebergs scattered in every direction.
There were endless spectacular formations, imposing and unique landscapes that took our breath away. This wild, unspoiled and natural beauty of Prince Christian Sound was definitely one of the most scenic and memorable parts of our entire trip.
We Meet the Inuits
Surprisingly, in the middle of the sound we spotted a small boat.
We approached slowly and greeted the first Greenlandic Inuits we had met. Aboard were a middle-aged man and a child with the characteristic physiognomy of the native inhabitants who live on top of the planet. Without being able to communicate, they greeted us with their characteristic shy smile and urged us to visit their small village, pointing to it.
On the opposite bank, on a low and rocky plateau, we saw the colorful houses of Aappilattoq. It was a very small village with about 70 souls, all of whom survive by hunting and fishing, It was surrounded by breathtaking icebergs and towering cliffs. Everything seemed magically made in this place.
We slowly entered the narrow entrance of the natural little harbor. We approached the small pontoon dock where the local boats were crowded and squeezed our inflatable boat between them.
On our arrival many people gathered to observe this strange vessel which had approached their home. It was obvious that they had never seen anything like it before. They were touching it, petting it as though it were alive, taking pictures and asking us if they could come aboard to see it.
A Friendly Local Guide—and a Hot Bath!
That's how we met Jaaku, who became our friend and helped us a lot with everything we needed at the village.
First we went out for a short walk in the village, at last stretching our legs ashore. A bit later we took the RIB to the other side of the small cove where the gas station was located—gas was easier to get here than it had been in many “civilized” harbors! We refueled and returned to the small pontoon. We were impressed by the local market, which was huge for the village standards; it had a bit of everything.
We stocked up on supplies and headed to the little house Jaakau had found for us for a hot bath.
We really needed it after so many days in the ocean.
After cleaning up, the first thing we did was to go all together to the small church to light a candle. We were still trying to recover from our shock and thanking the powers that be that we had all survived.
Time to Calm the Soul
Afterwards I sat on top of the glossy rocks in front of the narrow harbor entrance trying to relax.
Absolute peace everywhere. I stayed up there for a long time, speechless and thoughtful, soaking in our location and all we had survived so far. The village exuded an eerie aura of isolation and solitude and peace.
Qaanaaq—formerly Thule--may have the reputation of being the place of poets and thinkers, but I thought Aappilattoq was the ideal place to get lost in your thoughts and calm your soul.
The village's only connection to the outside world other than by boat is by helicopter from neighboring Nanortalik, as it is surrounded by tall and rocky mountains that isolate it from everywhere. It was a much-needed time of reflection.
DAY 23rd / Monday 25 of July 2022
Position: 60°08΄N 45°09΄W – Nanortalik
We didn't have any more time and so the next day we said goodbye to the wonderful village of Aappilattoq and headed for Nanortalik, 40 nautical miles further west. We continued our course through the narrow channel, navigating through the fog and between the numerous icebergs. Soon we were off the west coast of Greenland and turned our bow to the north.
Unfortunately, some additional challenges awaited us before we would arrive at Nuuk for a much-needed meeting with the Suzuki support team.